As an electrical engineer, I get asked a lot “So you’re going to major in electrical engineering to change lightbulbs?” Eric Janssen is an electrical engineer working for the company AECOM right now for the past four years. It was unplanned for him to go into the electrical engineering field because he had a degree in computer engineering. Eric attended Hartford College and h bounced around majors in college, starting from majoring in mechanical engineering in his freshmen year then going into computer engineering. Eric didn’t originally plan on working as an electrical engineer but he started to work as one when his career took off.
I was able to contact Eric from one of my former mentors that was helping me in learning more about the engineering field. During my high school year I went into a program called ACE Mentor; where you can work with other people already in the engineering field, and to design new structures or renovate existing ones. One of the mentors there helped redirect me to an electrical engineer in their company AECOM. I received Eric’s contact information and started talking to him about setting up this informational interview.
I learned a lot of interesting things about him and how he got into working as an electrical engineer. He participated in an internship that gave him a glimpse into the electrical field. It began with an internship at Hamilton Sundstrand, a company that manufactures aerospace and industrial products. It also supplied aircrafts for the military too, which is where Eric was able to work with Blackhawks. While working in the internship he learned to work with fuel cells and engine control.
A couple years later and now he is working at AECOM, a global company that works with clients and communities, and manages projects. In Eric’s field, the electrical group, they focus on energy. Currently his group is working on the Croton Water Filtration Plant. It’s under a driving range and supplies almost 25% of the water that we drink. Some of the pictures that I saw in where I conducted the interview, there were flower shaped structures that was able to collect rain water and filtrate it. He was in charge of fixing a reoccurring problem of frozen water during the winter. To fix it there was a sensor that was able to detect the outside moisture and if it was too cold there were extra wires inside the structure that would heat up the water to allow it to flow smoothly.
During a regular day’s work he is either working with his group on the water plant or meeting with clients. A part of Eric’s week is made up of drawing and revising schematics for the water plant or making new schematics for other ongoing projects. He also designs circuits on his computer using software like OrCAD. Most of the week is spent traveling from one project to another overseeing the progress. He is usually moving from either his office space on 605 3rd Avenue or working on the water filtration plant at 3701 Jerome Avenue. When he is not traveling to the different sites and is at the office, Eric sometimes goes to meetings where people in his group come together with the engineers in the other departments and represent their designs.
Since he started working as an electrical engineer, Eric had not expected the field to be so heavily revolved construction and thought there was more circuitry involved in the field. Some advice he gave me was the obvious “stay in school.” He said this only because he regretted not staying in school to compete his 4 years of school. He finished school in 3 years and regret taking so much time off before finishing his last year, because it made everything really hard to remember in his previous courses. He also told me to have some kind of plan for my future. During his college years, Eric didn’t really know what to do with himself, moving to one major to another and took some time off from college to decide what he wanted to do. A big part of his advice to me was to start getting familiar with some of the programs that he was using, like OrCad, which allowed him to make circuits on the computer and find out where things could go wrong. There was one last sliver of advice he gave me before I left was networking. This is very important because the more people you know, the better your chances at getting a job.